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Author: toni

~ 03/18/10

 Welcome to movie math where we look at a film and see if it adds up to family fun.


TIM BURTON’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND - There are many things that are totally cool about this movie. Among them, the fact that there are 5 actors from the Harry Potter films in it (this according to Julia). That little tidbit aside, visually it’s pretty darn stunning. Burton never fails to deliver when it comes to the look of his films. Story, well, he’s not always on the mark. The premise has promise. Alice is a teenager, plagued by what she thinks are “dreams” of her childhood visit to Wonderland. Her beloved father, a visionary and self-professed mad person (“all the best people are,” he tells her when she thinks she has gone mad) has passed away. And Alice is being forced into a loveless marriage with an annoying and unattractive Lord with digestive issues. (Been there, honey). At her engagement party, just after the Lord proposes and before she answers, she excuses herself and follows the White Rabbit down the hole (been there too) thus returning to Wonderland. Being a Tim Burton film, Wonderland has naturally transformed from a lovely (albeit wacky) place, into a desolate, decimated, nightmarish landscape, all thanks the the evil RED QUEEN played quite convincingly by Burton’s wife without the legal paperwork Helena Bonham Carter (I’d like to be a fly on the wall in THAT marriage). And Alice, according to some scroll we never quite learn the origins of, is destined to be the savior of Wonderland by fighting the Jabberwock.  Fight the Jabberwock?! I’d turn over the reigns to Wonderland if she can tell me what the heck “the mome raths outgrabe” means! Anyhow, the reluctant Alice must find herself and therefore her courage in order to save the day. All fine and good. But this is where the story starts to get lame-o.  It’s predictable and fairly tensionless. Little makes sense as to WHY anything is happening. I know, I know. It’s Wonderland… things aren’t supposed to make sense. Well, yes, the story should otherwise all you have is a Lady Gaga video. Frankly, if it weren’t for the oddities and amazing visuals, I certainly would have taken a snooze. But you know what? Julia loved it! And without spoiling the ending, which I’m sure you’ve guessed, the message is a good one in terms of empowerment for girls. And being the mamma of a girl, I’m always happy to see that. Thanks Tim and Jim (Cameron) for your messages to my daughter this past year. In the end, yeah… it’s worth a look. But if you’re debating 3-D price versus 2-D, you might want to save your money since the 3-D, not so spectacular.


A little Lewis Carroll trivia re: the original Alice In Wonderland and what the heck it means.

Apparently, the other-worldly events in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” can be interpreted as satire on 19th-century advances in mathematics. This according to a NY Times article entitled ALGEBRA IN WONDERLAND.



Author: toni

~ 02/19/10

 Today we’re combining our BAD MOMS IN MOVIES feature with MOVIE MATH.

In MOVIE MATH we review a movie and see if it adds up to family fun.

Our BAD MOMS IN MOVIES feature helps us feel better about our not-so-perfect parenting skills by observing the bad parenting of others in movies.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief – When it comes to family dysfunction, nobody does it better than the Greek Gods. I mean, they go around coupling with mortals, having all these illegitimate kids whom they pretty much walk out on. That makes for a world full of pretty messed up teenage demi-gods with serious parental abandoment issues. That’s what’s at the core of the first Percy Jackson movie. Without going into too much detail that may result in spoilers – much of what motivates the movie’s characters (PERCY – son of Poseidon, ANNABETH – daughter of Athena, and LUKE – son of Hermes) is their need to prove themselves to and/or get back at their absentee parents. Now is it a good movie? Eh. It played more like a low rent, wanna-be HARRY POTTER. Which is kind of puzzling since the books are supposed to be good (Julia got the set for her B-Day but she hasn’t read them yet) and that it was directed by CHRIS COLUMBUS who directed the first two Potter films. But unlike Harry Potter, this movie was filled with major contrivances, plot holes and inconsistencies. The effects were okay. And some kids will surely find it fun to see kids fighting Hydras and Minotaurs. And the movie DID inspire Julia to learn about the Greek Gods. And I DID feel better about my parenting skills knowing I wasn’t going to abandon my kid to the likes of Medusa or Hades. I mean, let’s face it, the most trauma my kid is likely to suffer is when they’re out of her favorite flavor at the Golden Spoon yogurt place. So hey… it’s worth a look. But go to the matinee and save a few bucks. Or wait for the dvd when you can drink wine while viewing.  


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Author: toni

~ 02/01/10


In case, like me, you get confused by which movie is which, Star Wars Episode IV is really the first Star Wars that came out way back in 1977. And if you ask Julia, who actually has a VERY good sense of what makes a decent story – is really the best of the Star Wars films. She found the last three (and by that I mean Episodes I, II and III)  almost unwatchable. “Too much fighting, not enough about the babies,” she said when we watched them back when she was about 5.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Roger Ebert had to say too.

Well, here’s another little girl, this one aged 3, who had quite a bit to say about the first Star Wars, and by that I mean Episode IV. This video was sent in by GARY. Thanks, Gary for confirming to me that Leonard Maltin is waaaay overpaid.



“Don’t talk back to Darth Vader…He’ll getcha.”

No truer words were ever spoken. Well, except maybe,”I suggest you make darn sure you don’t eat the last of the chocolate for the next 5 to 7 days.”

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Author: toni

~ 01/15/10

Welcome to Good Mommies in Movies where we review movies that feature “Good Moms”. This is for us less-than-perfekt mommies who sometimes need a little INSPIRATION to get through our days. One way to get it: by watching impossibly great movie moms in action.


THE BLIND SIDE – Okay. I don’t know when SANDRA BULLOCK went from playing ingenues to moms of teenagers, but it’s making me feel really old. But that icky feeling is pretty much forgotten while watching this movie because this is one the most feel-good movies I’ve seen in a long time. Sure this true story about a wealthy Christian white family (The Tuohy’s) taking in a homeless black kid and ultimately turning his life around to the point that he becomes a huge college and NFL football star (Baltimore Ravens’ MICHAEL OHER)  is a little Hollywood-ized and whitewashed. But did I mention IT’S TRUE?! And it’s nice. And it has a happy ending… So far anyway, because I haven’t read any locker room incidences involving him and guns or dogfighting. And I gotta hand it to the director for not overplaying the sentimentality of the piece or dwelling on the tragedy of his life. And forget Sandra Bullock, who pulls off a career-rekindling performance – I want to say KUDOS to the real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy, who is the real inspiration to me as a mom. Wow. The world could use more moms like her. She is soooo amazing in fact, she makes me feel a little inadequate as a mom and a human being that I haven’t gone out and adopted a bunch of needy kids. But then, I don’t own 30 something Taco Bells which allows me to to easily pay for private school and buy new cars for kids I take in off the street. I’ll be lucky if the Harry Potter party I’m throwing for my kid’s 8th birthday in our garage doesn’t break me. I know, I know. No excuses. Get out there and do something good for a child today. Like Leigh Anne! In theaters now.

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Author: toni

Movies with really, really bad moms that make us feel good about our less than perfekt parenting skills.  

It’s been a while since I posted one of these but if you recall this is where I list movies featuring mommies in movies who are SOOO BAD, that they make us look like the Mother Teresas of mommydom. Cuz no matter how sucky we think we are, we can NEVER be as bad as these moms. Hence, the VINDICATION!


PRECIOUS - This movie about a horribly abused, obese, teenaged black girl from the slums named Precious, features a mom (played by Mo’Nique) who is soooooooooo bad that well, I’m not sure if she makes me feel better about myself as a mommy or worse about myself as a human being because I actually belong to the same species as her. This mommy allows her husband to start sexually abusing their daughter when she is only 3. And instead of feeling sorry for or helping the child, she grows jealous and resentful of her. Know why? Because over the years the dad actually prefers sex with his daughter than his wife. Lovely. And as a result, he gives his daughter two babies (one with Down’s Syndrome) and also infects her with AIDS. The mom grows increasingly resentful of her Precious and treats her like a slave. She is verbally abusive, beats her and in an attempt to make Precious less appealing to her father, the mom forces Precious to overeat so she becomes hugely obese.  To keep her welfare checks coming, the mom pretends to be caring for Precious’ Down’s Syndrome daughter when in reality the child is being cared for by her grandmother. And when Precious comes home from the hospital with her second baby from her father, her mother throws the baby across the room and then tries to kill Precious and the baby by throwing her TV down the stairwell at them. And yet this is supposed to be a feel-good film because Precious is a survivor. I dunno. But after this movie all I wanted to do was close my eyes, click my heels and get the hell home. Even Mariah Carey playing a counselor in a bad wig couldn’t take the edge off for me.

I think you’d have to feel like you screwed up pretty bad as a mom for this movie to make you feel good in any way. But if you’ve done something THAT bad, like forgotten your kid’s birthday or purchased straight-up corn flakes instead of the frosted kind, then by all means take a gander at this film. It’ll make you feel like Mommy of The Year. In theaters now.

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Author: toni

~ 11/19/09


Welcome to MOVIE MATH where we review a movie and see if it adds up to family fun.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL - Okay. I gotta admit, I was not looking forward to Bob Zemeckis’ animated retelling of Charles’ Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”. Not after the creepshow that was “The Polar Express”. That weird animation freaked me out. I didn’t know if I was supposed to root for that kid or drive a stake through his heart before sundown. So I feared the same from this movie. But we went anyway because, well, I really wanted Julia to see a version of the classic tale that didn’t feature Barbie. I mean, really. If I could apologize to Dickens, I would. Last year, we tried watching the George C. Scott version but had to stop when the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed “ignorance” and “want” under his robes in the form of emaciated children. The bad under-eye makeup didn’t stop Julia from getting really scared.  

So, with the additional lure of Digital 3-D and despite the ridiculous ticket prices, off to the multiplex we went. And guess what? I LIKED IT! Randy the perfekt husband liked it too! Know who DIDN’T like it? Julia the kid. And why was that? Well, and I quote “it was too creepy”. Which, while it didn’t work for The Polar Express, actually worked for this story because let’s face it, it’s a creepy tale. I mean Marley’s Ghost all bound up in chains? A little boy on crutches destined to die if the future isn’t changed? And again with the figures of “ignorance” and “want”… lemme tell you, the George C. Scott version had nothing on the gollum-like, feral children that Zemeckis served up. FREAKY!

But hey, to us adults, we liked that it was pretty true to the Dickens’ tale and that it all looked really cool. For little kids, not so much. Julia spent a lot of the movie with her 3-D glasses buried in my sweater and her hands over her ears.  Even the fact that the guy who plays Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies (Gary Oldman) is prominently featured, didn’t make the movie any more palatable to her. In the end she gave it a resounding thumbs down. Which probably explains why it’s not taking the box office by storm. Despite the effects, it’s just not kid-friendly fare. But then Dickens, if he was alive, would probably tell you that.


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